Thursday, March 8, 2012

A visit to Curly Girl Farm and the "Sugar Shak"

One of the best aspects of being self-employed is that you can take "mini-vacations" whenever you want (or whenever there isn't immediate work that needs done), and you can even pass them off as educational business trips! I have been trying to convince Isaac that we need to get into maple syrup. We get requests for it at the farm markets from time to time (afterall, maple syrup and honey are both sweet, so we must do both, right?). But because Isaac was always working another full time job, he was convinced there was never time. Maybe now.... February through March is not so busy with the bees, right, Isaac? We have some access to sugar maple trees on the farm where Isaac grew up. To see if this might someday be a possibility, we took a trip to our friend Kristen's farm, Curly Girl Farm, and toured the maple syrup operation where she assists a group of retired men that have a 'sugar shak' near Zanesville, Ohio.
They use cordless drills to tap into the trees, and use plastic spiles and tubing that run right into gallon, two and a half gallon, and five gallon jugs.
Then, they have these great "go-buggies" that they use to haul the sap back to the sugar shak, making the job much easier to transport the heavy jugs.
Here, I had to steal a few photos from Kristen's blog to show what it is like cooking the sap down into syrup. They have three stoves working at a time (and even an extra one in another shed if needed). Sap is boiled, and boiled, and boiled...

...until it goes in this "finishing pan" that will boil it into syrup. The great thing about this operation is that they don't even sell their syrup! They do all this work, just to GIVE IT AWAY! We left with a beautiful pint of fresh maple syrup. Kristen says they all enjoy making the syrup so much, they really don't feel the need to do it for profit. Although Kristen runs a nice little produce stand outside of Zanesville, she simply enjoys working and learning from the group of men who run this 'sugar shak', and she has yet to sell a jar of syrup.
I'm still working on convincing Isaac that this is something we should do... so if you're at a farmer's market and you see him, maybe drop him a request for syrup... ;-).

And in other news unrelated to beekeeping... our son Mason turned 4 this week! Every year I let my kids pick what they want their cake to look like, and this year, he chose a combine cake. It was quite the challenge, but a lot of fun, too. He loved it!

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